ARLINGTON, Texas -- Scott Kazmir fought his way through five innings in a smothering heat Sunday en route to his 12th win, a 9-3 decision over Texas that left Oakland 3-0 in series played since the All-Star break.
The game began with the thermometer reaching 100 degrees, and it may have taken a toll on the usually economical Kazmir, who needed 94 pitches to make it through five.
Other than a homer from former A's infielder Adam Rosales, Kazmir was the master of the Rangers, working out of jam in the third and fifth innings that could have taken this one out of the realm of blowout status.
Oakland's offense gave Kazmir a five-run cushion in the second inning with three consecutive hits from John Jaso, Stephen Vogt and Yoenis Cespedes driving in four of the five.
The A's got some sobering news during the game with the news that center fielder Coco Crisp was flying back to the Bay Area Sunday evening to have his sore neck examined. After the four-day All-Star break Crisp was in the lineup for six consecutive days, but he missed two of the three games in Arlington, including Sunday's
"His neck is bothering him again," manager Bob Melvin said before the game. "It has been for a few days. It's still the same thing he's been dealing with. It's a lingering thing that sometimes it's an issue and sometimes he feels good."
Oakland, 65-39 overall and still two games up in the American League West, is 40-29 when Crisp starts this year, and the club hasn't seen a need to put him on the disabled list because the neck problem seems to go away as quickly as it shows up. But the trip to the West Coast increases the likelihood of Crisp getting a 15-day break to get the rest that might make his neck right.
For the moment, Craig Gentry can start in center, leading off against left-handed pitchers and batting ninth against right-handers. The A's, who will see two lefties in a three-game set in Houston that begins Monday, will generally go with red-hot Jaso leadoff off against right-handers.
That was the case Sunday as Jaso singled home the A's second run in what would turn out to be a five-run second inning. Later in the inning Vogt added an RBI double and Cespedes had a double worth two runs. Jaso came up in the fifth with two on and two out and, facing a left-handed reliever for one of the few times this year, delivered a two-run double.
Jaso has driven in 13 runs in his last 15 games and is hitting .380 over that stretch (19-for-50 with five doubles, two triples and a homer to bring his overall average up to .286.
In his 21 starts for the A's this year, Kazmir has allowed two runs or fewer in 14 of those, including his last five times out. That's gotten his ERA down to 2.37, the third-best mark in the American League. His dozen wins match Sonny Gray for the team lead, and they are two of five AL pitchers tied for the lead in that category.
He had men at second and third with two out in the third inning and had the bases loaded with two out in the fifth. On both occasions he struck out Rangers' first baseman J.P. Arencibia to keep Texas at bay.
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